Seventy-nine percent of Americans agree that The current culture in America, including the pressures of work, family and financial demands, makes it hard for people to exercise regularly and maintain healthy lifestyles. Whats more, 55% of adults cite work demands as a barrier to peoples ability to exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle.


Eight in 10 Americans (84%) say it would make it easier for people to incorporate exercise into their daily routine if employers had programs to encourage exercise. And more than three-fifths of Americans (61%) believe the government should do more to promote physical activity. More than half of those polled (51%) say the federal government currently doesnt do enough to encourage physical activity. These were the findings of a national public opinion poll conducted on behalf of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA).


Heres what health clubs across America are doing about it:


  • Health Clubs Open Doors Free in May 2008 as Part of Get Active America! Program (Click here for more information) As part of the annual Get Active America! program, a wide variety of health clubs nationwide offer health-focused programs each May and open their doors for free for several days. The goal is to make it easier for Americans to exercise and to help them build regular exercise into their daily routines.
  • Health and Fitness Industry Gets Moving on Capitol Hill, Urging Congress to Pass Health Promotion Legislation during its Annual Summit in May 2008 The WHIP Act seeks to remove barriers to worker wellness by making off-site fitness center memberships tax-free for employees when provided as an employee benefit. Current law requires workers to pay income tax on such wellness benefits. The PHIT bill would allow for exercise and physical fitness programs and certain exercise equipment to be paid for out of pre-tax dollars by including them in tax deferred medical savings vehicles, such as flexible spending accounts (FSA) and health savings accounts (HSA). IHRSA believes that PHIT will help provide the level of support many Americans need to be able to adopt healthier lifestyles and become more physically active.
  • More about the WHIP Act (Workforce Health Improvement Program Act; HR 1748, S 1038) IHRSA supports health promotion legislation to help encourage more active lifestyles, such as the Workforce Health Improvement Program (WHIP) Act. This federal legislation seeks to combat chronic disease and obesity caused by inactivity by allowing for the balanced tax treatment of fitness center memberships as an employee benefit. Specifically, it reaffirms an employers right to deduct the cost of subsidizing or providing off-site health club benefits to their workers, and it excludes the wellness benefit from being considered additional taxable income for employees. Current law allows employees to use on-site fitness facilities free of any tax implications. But when a business needs to outsource this health benefit, employees who receive off-site fitness center subsidies are required to pay income tax on the benefits, and their employers bear the associated administrative costs of complying with IRS rules. The WHIP Act eliminates this tax on off-site fitness center subsidies, making it easier for all employers to offer important exercise incentives for their workers.

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